Residents Call For Pot Cove Affordable Housing

Staff Writer

At a Community Board 1 public hearing Tuesday night, Astoria residents voiced a number of concerns regarding Alma Realty’s rezoning application for the development of Pot Cove, also known as Astoria Cove. Chief among these concerns was the amount of affordable housing units planned for the development.

Alma Realty has promised 295 affordable housing units of the total 1,689 residential units. According to land use attorney Howard Weiss, who presented the application on Tuesday night alongside principal architect Jay Valgora and landscape architect Ken Smith, Alma is working with the Dept. of City Planning to raise the number of affordable housing units.

However, Weiss did not provide a goal number of affordable units or a timeline for when that number can be announced.

“We’re not there yet,” he said. “We started these discussions recently, so I can’t provide a number, I can just assure you it will be increased and it will be spread over the entire project.”

Residents also asked Alma Realty to outline its definition of “affordable housing.” Resident Brian Smith said, “there’s no mention of what the rates are going to be here … it sounds like they’re putting the cart in front of the horse.”

“I’d like to know if I can afford an apartment [here],” Smith continued. “Recently, I read in the papers I’m no longer ‘middle class,’ I’m ‘moderate income.’ So I don’t even know if I can qualify for an apartment.”

“If I’m living in an affordable apartment, say a 1 bedroom apartment, and the person next door to me is living in a one bedroom non-affordable apartment, what’s the difference? Is my apartment half the size of theirs?” one board member asked.

Weiss responded by emphasizing the dispersal of affordable and market-rate apartments within the development.

“There’s not going to be any discrimination [between the two types],” he said. “There will be fairly-sized affordable units and there will be affordable units available to singles. It’s going to be fully integrated, and in fact, the entrances for both the affordable residences in the building as well as the market-rate residences are going to be fully blended and seamless.”

Other topics raised by board members and residents at the meeting included possible ferry access, handicap accessibility and security. Several members of the labor alliance Build Up NYC spoke up for the use of local workers and collaboration with unions in the construction of this development.

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, or @JNStrawbridge.